This is the fifth time cruising for my husband and I and the first time cruising for my two sisters and my sister's two children aged 9 and 7.
We usually book more expensive cruises and have been a fan of Royal Caribbean and so our expectations going into this cruise were low.
Galveston Pier embarkation went smoothly. We booked a reservation for parking through Lighthouse parking for $35 for the duration of the cruise. They offer a free shuttle to the pier. We arrived at around 10am hoping to get onto the ship early however despite being one of the first groups onto the ship we were not able to board until around 12:30pm. Once on the ship we ate lunch at the Lido buffet and then found our bags at our room around 1:30pm.
Our first room was E14 with a few problems. There was a very strong odor of cigarette smoke in the room and the air conditioning unit seemed to be piping in air that smelled of smoke as well. The room itself was very dated with orange wood paneling. Almost immediately my eyes became very irritated and asthma aggravated so we requested a new room. The ship did accommodate our request to move to another room (E80) which was a handicapped room but no smoke smell and seemed like it was slightly less dated.
My sisters who stayed in E24 experienced quite a bit of noise from the forward thrusters... the floor would shake and I commented it sounded like a bomb went off when they started up. This was intermittent however and didn't pose too much of an issue. Only minimal noise from the theatre located one deck up could be heard during show nights.
The food was actually better than expected. The Lido buffet was fairly limited but the salad bar was good. The hamburgers, chicken strips, grilled sandwiches were all very good. Most nights we ate in the main dining room and had great service and the food was very delicious. We had the Mongolian the last day due to the constant enormous lines however we discovered it was worth the wait. The sushi was just OK. There was never a moment where we were at risk of hunger.
Camp Carnival: The kids loved camp carnival and it gave us all a much needed break from the kiddos during the day. After 10pm the kids have to be picked up otherwise a babysitting fee of $10 per hour is billed. They took part in all kinds of creative activities and crafts and made lots of friends as well.
Progreso: We took the Chichen Itza excursion which took the entire day. The ruins are great however due to the minimal time in port and a two hour bus ride both there and back the actual time at the ruins was very rushed and we didn't get to see everything we wanted. Prepare to be hounded non stop to buy souvenirs by the vendors.
Cozumel: We rented a cab to take us to Mr. Sanchez beach. It was an expensive cab ride ($60 round trip) however the cabbie waited at the beach all day for us so we didn't have to worry about obtaining a ride back. The beach was free, however to use the chairs you were expected to purchase something. We had no problem with that.... Mexican beer and nachos were fantastic. The beach was great, the water fantastic... we purchased snorkels on the ship for $5 and thought they were well worth it to see the fantastic mini reefs and tropical fish in the crystal clear water.
Back on the ship: The comics were really funny, the shows were mediocre and kind of lame actually but pretty typical of a cruise ship. There was an on board magician that the kids loved. The choice of clubs, karaoke, piano bar, dance clubs were really fun. The service we experienced from all the crew were fantastic. The only things I really didn't like about this ship was the dated feel of the decor and the only pool was absolutely tiny for this many passengers. Overall though Carnival really won us over and I'm sure we wouldn't hesitate to book another cruise with Carnival in the future.